ST. PAUL – Legislation Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, authored to prevent state agencies from implementing ditch-mowing regulations passed the full House Tuesday after a compromise was reached on an amended version of the bill. Swedzinski’s original bill (H.F. 124) would have prohibited state agencies such as MnDOT from placing new mowing regulations on ditches. Instead of an all-out ban, the amended form (S.F. 218) establishes a moratorium until May of 2018 on new mowing rules along state highways – excluding county and township roads.
Swedzinski said the 13-month window is not his first choice, but it would allow more time to consider a long-range plan. “I still would rather see an all-out prohibition on this overreach, but we need to be able to send the governor a bill he will sign into law and this is the compromise we reached with his administration,” Swedzinski said. “The public would have more time to express concerns over just how out-of-touch the bureaucrats are on this issue so we can come back and look at some permanent fixes.”
The bill is in response to MnDOT last November indicating it plans to change its statewide permitting standards for mowing and baling in ditches along Minnesota’s state roadways. Swedzinski said MnDOT’s proposed changes would add unnecessary, impractical burdens on a significant number of property owners who have successfully managed their ditches for decades on end.
“The permit process was a top-down push created through agency rulemaking, without input from local landowners as part of the legislative process,” Swedzinski said. “The practice that’s in place has worked just fine, but now agencies want to apply a whole new set of rules for people to follow, from the insurance you carry all the way down to the kind of clothing you wear while mowing. I am hearing a lot of people say they are frustrated by our government on this issue, and for very good reason. This is another infringement on property owners.”
The House provided passage of the amended proposal (S.F. 218) 106-23. It now returns to the Senate for its consideration.